“Being a social conservative from Alberta [is] not really a winning formula for this Party anymore.” That’s what Global National’s Tom Clark reported from the Conservative’s convention in Vancouver.
Clark could be correct. Who can argue that the mainstream media know an awful lot about formulae? Indeed, formula is written into everything they do, from their news broadcasts to the selection of their prime-time programming.
They know our vanities, and they’re quite willing to exploit them. It’s good business.
Hence, if a winning formula is all that matters, why don’t political parties just ride the latest Twitter-trend, or cultivate the ideology which tickles the most contemporary ears? Ideally, a winning platform should emphasize lots of free stuff, an abundance of enabling, no harsh reality, and plenty of sexual catharsis.
The trouble is, this “platform” has already been thoroughly cultivated by the Left!
Strategists may be loathe to admit it, but a “winning” formula never quite disqualifies our collective need for “the good”. Indeed, the sheer vacuity of what is often politically “successful” these days may soon help fuel the public’s desire for far more transcendent political principles. Such, at least, is the hope.
To that end, let me humbly submit nine reasons why social conservatism is not only valid, but is absolutely essential to the political and social health of Canada.
1) Social conservatism is now the only political construct in which the nature of individual morality and its relationship to politics is routinely debated and appreciated for its contributions.
By contrast, social progressivism’s Marxist capitulation has meant an emphasis upon systemic causes of oppression, not individual responsibilities. In general, the Left now cares very little for the moral argumentation that has been standard political fare from Aristotle to Locke and beyond.
2) Philosophically, the “conservation” of the past is a necessary aspect of true progress.
Without a baseline, there is simply nothing by which to measure the credibility of social change. One simply cannot know progress without precedent. Put another way, the past is necessary to the future. Conservatism, therefore, provides irreplaceable perspective on the human political condition and its contemporary trajectory.
3) Social conservatism values the traditional nuclear family, and claims (almost exclusively now) that family stability is indispensable to a functional society.
Given the erosion of family in the past fifty years— with increased rates of divorce, promiscuity, abortion, absentee parents, sexual and spousal abuse— we can expect that conservatism’s thesis will either be increasingly obvious, or thoroughly disproven. When the former inevitably happens, it will then be up to progressives to quit substituting the State for family.
4) Social conservatism tends to be strongly theocentric (“God-centred”).
Surprisingly, this can be a key asset for political health and humility. In the Judeo-Christian context, such conservatism has a tendency to produce a prudent socio-prophetic impulse— that when the State begins to ignore moral authority or usurp the ultimate authority that, alone, is God’s, the “socio-prophets” will be raised up. Anyone can criticize the State, but not all are profoundly principled when doing so.
Truthfully, those whose Statist desire is for the nation to become god, are seldom comforted by social conservatism’s capacity to produce a respectfully critical, counter-idolatrous, counter-culture.
5) Social conservatives have a healthy sense of human mistrust.
They still believe in decay. Do social progressives?. If humans are essentially “good” and government is “naturally” progressing, we shouldn’t need political watchdogs, ombudsmen, and whistle-blowers.
But social conservatism doesn’t tend to mind realistic safeguards; they act as bulwarks against the worst aspects of ourselves, and of naive legislation. One very contemporary example of this is the recent conservative criticism of inclusive public washroom policies. The naive liberal inference is that social conservatives are just being “haters”. The truth is that laws which actually enable predatory behaviour are bad laws— bad for being anthropologically gullible.
6) Socially conservative values, as represented in such basic covenants as the “Ten Commandments” or the “Golden Rule” are intended to be integrated with public life— benefiting society.
Core principles of honesty and integrity must flavour more than just political philosophy. Wherever theft, fraud, and breach of contract abound, a business climate is inevitably brutalized. All agreements become riskier because trust is routinely broken. Conservative Indian evangelical Vishal Mangalwadi has argued that Western society has historically developed a demonstrably better business culture for being informed by the ethics of “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.
7) A socially conservative priority of not aborting children may drive radical feminists to distraction, but it will help to grow a country and its economy.
A caring nation actually multiplies talent and vitality as it multiplies its own people. Conversely, a country that disposes its children will find its tax-base disposable as well. For a time, it may hide behind immigration in order to compensate, but a country that relies on another nation’s love of children fails to perceive the irony in its own parasitic priorities.
8) This may come as a shock, but social conservatism implicitly understands minority rights, and yet with the inherent balance and qualification of upholding the common good.
Because of their connection to religious values, social conservatives know what it means to be opposed to certain broad cultural trends. Such philosophical opposition is routine enough that they don’t have to theorize as to what “minority” feels like. At the same time, however, social conservatives are interested in what is “good” as opposed to what is merely opportune, and recognize that nations need a commonly held, political “good”. Hence, they understand the social balance between “the one and the many” better than their critics often think they do.
9) Because of its religious affiliations and doctrinal familiarities, social conservatism still debates truth in the objective sense of that word.
Philosophically, such conservatism doesn’t cling to moral relativism, or post-modernism, quite like progressivism does. As a consequence, social conservatives still adamantly believe that mistakes can be objectively identified and corrections potentially made. Shockingly, too, its ranks are still capable of being horrified by lies. Perhaps this is why there is still some mystique left in becoming a social conservative; regardless of numbers, we remain philosophically dangerous to the status quo.
History would tell us that, as principles fade, politics turns to mere pragmatism.
To illustrate, when Jesus converses with the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate asks him two curiously related questions: “What is truth?” and “Don’t you realize that I have the power to crucify you?” Do progressives perceive the implicit warning? Put another way, did Machiavelli worry about “truth”?
When politics, ancient or modern, finds truth a philosophical burden or a losing “formula”, it tends to default to raw power. A social conservative would understand this, but does Tom Clark? Maybe this is why Tom should worry less about the “formula”, and more about Canada.